Massachusetts Historical Review Volume 14 on Its Way

By Jim Connolly, Publications

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: that time when a new volume of the Massachusetts Historical Review goes to press! Print subscribers will receive Volume 14 by mail in the early days of the new year, and the electronic version will be published simultaneously through JSTOR’s Current Scholarship Program. Learn more about subscription here. The journal is also a benefit of MHS membership—learn more about membership here!

The upcoming volume treats a diversity of fascinating topics:

“Boston’s Historic Smallpox Epidemic” by Amalie M. Kass
Cotton Mather’s advocacy for inoculation—a practice then unheard of in the colonies—stirred up a controversy in 18th-century Boston. Insults and accusations flew in the partisan newspapers as inoculation’s champions and opponents fought for public health—and personal glory. The source of Mather’s knowledge of inoculation may surprise you.

“The Newbury Prayer Bill Hoax: Devotion and Deception in New England’s Era of Great Awakenings” by Douglas L. Winiarski
This article explores the phenomenon of the prayer bill or prayer note in colonial religious practices, and how a satirical prayer bill was crafted to injure the reputation of Newbury Congregational minister Rev. Christopher Toppan, who vehemently opposed the popular religious revivals of the Great Awakening.

“A Prince among Pretending Free Men: Runaway Slaves in Colonial New England Revisited” by Antonio T. Bly
Bly sheds light on the lives and characteristics of runaway slaves through in-depth analysis and explication of runaway notices in newspapers. Clues within these notices tell us how fugitive slaves employed quick wits and savvy under extraordinary duress. Bly, who has compiled a database of runaway slave notices, crunches the numbers on a variety of characteristics, illuminating the most common months for escape, the race, linguistic ability, and work backgrounds of runaways, and more.

“Boston, the Boston Indian Citizenship Committee, and the Poncas” by Valerie Sherer Mathes
When the Ponca Indians of Nebraska were forced from their homeland in 1877 and sent to the inhospitable Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), many Americans sympathized with their plight. Among those who took up the cause was the Boston Indian Citizenship Committee, a group of philanthropists, described in detail for the first time in this article. Mathes also chronicles the speaking tours in support of the Poncas, including the tour of Ponca chief Standing Bear.

The new volume also includes review articles by Sarah Phillips and Chernoh Sesay concerning environmental history and books about Phillis Wheatley and Venture Smith, respectively.

Every issue of the MHR offers pieces rich in narrative detail and thoughtful analysis, and Volume 14 is no different. The MHS looks forward to its publication.

Making the Body Politic

By Anna J. Cook, Reader Services

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Suzanne and Caleb Loring Research Fellow Ann Holder of the Pratt Institute discussed her research on post-Civil War citizenship, race, and public spaces in a presentation titled “Making the Body Politic: Sexual Histories, Racial Uncertainties, and Vernacular Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation U.S.” The presentation drew on one chapter from a book-length project exploring “public space as a battleground for citizenship.” In this particular chapter, Holder focuses on segregation debates and practices on streetcars and railways from the late 1860s into the early 20th century. She looks comparatively at Boston, Richmond (Virginia), and New Orleans in order to explore how the public space of streetcars and railway carriages were negotiated with regards to race, class, and sexuality, as these public transit systems developed and became necessary for urban life over the course of the 19th century.

Historians have often assumed that, following emancipation, the categories of black/white were easily mapped onto American society as a substitute for slave/free. Holder argues instead that racial segregation, in custom and law, actually rose in response to the uncertainty of racial categories in the Reconstruction era.  Inter-racial sexual relationships during the era of slavery had created racial ambiguity that slavery regulated; once slavery ended, the instability of racial identities exposed the fallacy of a clear demarcation between black and white. Segregation, she suggests, was a “newly-created borderland” between white and black communities, and one which required new mechanisms for enforcement – such as physical segregation in public spaces. Where once whites were relatively free to travel “at will” in black spaces, in the latter half of the 19th century they became subject to new laws restricting them to white spaces. This led to complaints, for example, by whites about crowded whites-only streetcars (particularly when black cars passed by relatively empty, as during organized boycotts), and the rise in arrests of whites for violating segregation laws. In other words, whites had to be disciplined into the “white role” in a similar (though lesser, less violent) fashion as blacks.

Here at the MHS, Holder is exploring the history of segregation in Boston transit, which was practiced customarily in the early 19th century before it fell victim to the campaigns to “strip the legal system of reference to race” in the early 19th century, and to repeal laws banning inter-racial marriage. She notes how the “forced democratization” of crowded public spaces, and the “physicality of encounters with the ‘other’” whether of another class, sex, and/or race, often discomfited those of higher social standing and introduced an unmistakable undertone of sexuality to the experience of traveling. In her presentation, she quoted an anonymous diarist who recounted his unhappy experience of traveling from New York to Boston on the railway, using the word “amalgamation” to describe class mixing in train cars – a word that would, in the Reconstruction era, come to mean inter-racial sexual relations.

Discussion following Holder’s presentation explored the various ways in which imposed order was attempted on the disorganization of public transit, whether by the creation of “first class” rail cars, smoking cars, women-only cars, or racially-segregated trolleys and trains.

We look forward to seeing where Anne Holder takes her research from here, and are very pleased to have her with us throughout the academic year pursuing her work in our Reading Room.

This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

Bouncing back from the November holidays, we have a very busy week ahead at the MHS.

Tuesday, 27 November at 6:00 PM, Waite Rawls, Museum of the Confederacy, presents The Confederacy in History, Myth, & Memory.  A pre-event reception begins at 5:30 PM. Reservations are requested for this free event. To RSVP call 617-646-0560 or click here.

Immediately following the program, current and prospective associate members (age 40 and under) are invited to adjorn to The Hawthorne in Kenmore Square to continue the conversation at our first historical happy hour from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM.  A separate reservation is required for this event and can be made by calling 617-646-0560 or clicking here.

Friday, 30 November, we close out the month with our signature fundraising event.  Tickets are still available for Cocktails with ClioThe evening begins at 6:00 PM with an elegant cocktail buffet at the Society’s building, followed by a trip to the Harvard Club for dessert and a conversation with cultural critic, Harvard scholar, host of PBS series Finding Your Roots, and MHS Overseer Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Tickets cost $200 per person. All net proceeds from the event will support the Society’s outreach efforts. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Carol Knauff at or 617-646-0554.

Please note that in order to transform our building for the event, the library and exhibition galleries will close at 2:00 PM on Friday, 30 November.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Thank You from the MHS

By Emilie Haertsch

At this time of giving thanks, we at the Society reflect on all of those friends who have made our work possible. As part of the recent renovations to the building, we installed plaques to honor our supporters, both past and present, and we take the time now to thank them and all who have become part of our community at the MHS.

On January 24, 1791, the Rev. Jeremy Belknap convened a meeting with nine like-minded gentlemen with the goal of gathering and protecting the basic sources of American history. By the end of that meeting, and through their pledges of manuscripts, books, pamphlets, newspapers, and historical artifacts, the “Historical Society,” the nation’s first, was formed. A lot has changed since then. Today we have many more Members and a beautiful home at 1154 Boylston Street. But what hasn’t changed is our dedication to the Society’s original purpose of serving as a repository and a publisher, collecting, preserving, and disseminating resources for the study of American history. Through exhibitions, our library, lending to other institutions, online resources, publications, public programming, and film and television, the Society’s collections reach local, national, and international audiences.

None of this work would be conceivable without the countless numbers of people who have supported the Society’s work intellectually, financially, and through the contribution of documents and objects. Our first recorded gift was $20 from Ebenezer Hazard in 1798, and many others followed, both financial and material. Due to many generous donations, we hold in our collections millions of letters and diary entries, as well as photographs, maps, broadsides, artifacts, works of art, prints, and early newspapers. As a sign of our gratitude and respect, the First Two Centuries plaque on the right wall  of the lobby honors the top 100 donors to the MHS through 1991. On the opposite wall, the Third Century plaque honors recent major donors and will be updated annually.

New Donor Plaque
Scholars, researchers, Board members, donors, Fellows, staff, and visitors – we couldn’t do it without you! Thank you, from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Image: MHS Board Chair Charlie Ames and Trustee Bill Cotter pose in front of the new third century donor plaque. Photo by Laura Wulf.

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch Diary, Post 18

By Elaine Grublin

The following excerpt is from the diary of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch.

Saturday, Nov. 29th, 1862

The election in Massachusetts disappointed the party just named [the People’s party], & maintained the high patriotic position of the state. On the other hand, an opposition ticket has prevailed in New York, Ohio, and other states where it had hardly been anticipated. Among the reasons that account for this are dissatisfaction at the slow progress of the war, and the absence of many in the army who would have voted the Republican ticket. The election was soon followed by the removal of Gen. McClellan, – on the ground of slowness and disobedience of orders, – and the appointment of Gen. Burnside in his place. The country and the army acquiesce in these changes. Burnside, of whom I have a very high opinion from what I hear, has advanced & is encamped before Fredericksburg, Va. The rebel army under Lee is opposite him, & a large rebel force, under ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, is or was in the valley of the Shenandoah. An expedition has been preparing, & is now embarking under Gen. Banks, from Long Island; – destination unknown, – rumor points to Texas or Georgia; but many, of whom I am one, hope that it will cooperate with Burnside in Virginia, and Foster in N.C. against Richmond & its defenders. I have two young parishioners, – the Weymouths -, in the 42d Mass. in this expedition.

A Civil War Surgeon & Prisoner of War

By Susan Martin, Collection Services

The Joseph H. Hayward family papersis one of five collections on deposit at the MHS from the Mary M. B. Wakefield Charitable Trust. The collection contains over two centuries of correspondence, diaries, sketchbooks, and other personal papers of members of the Hayward family of Milton, Mass., including Civil War surgeon John McLean Hayward (1837-1886).

John McLean Hayward, or “Mac,” graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1858. His family had already produced a number of doctors, including his father Joshua Henshaw Hayward, his uncle George Hayward, and his grandfather Lemuel Hayward. While still in his twenties, Mac was commissioned surgeon of the 12th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry, otherwise known as the “Webster Regiment” after its first commander Col. Fletcher Webster. Mac served with distinction at Bull Run, Antietam, and other battles.

Unfortunately, on 19 November 1862, he was captured by the Confederate Army at Warrenton, Va. The Hayward collection contains some fascinating documents related to this incident, including the certificate of his parole, signed by Capt. Robert Randolph of the Black Horse Troop, 4th Virginia Cavalry. On the reverse of this document is a note granting Hayward passage “from Confederate into Federal lines.”



Hayward’s capture was complicated by the fact that he served as a non-combatant. General Order No. 60, issued on 6 June 1862 by the U.S. War Department, stated in no uncertain terms that medical personnel were off-limits. Paragraph 4 of the order read: “The principle being recognized that medical officers should not be held as prisoners of war it is hereby directed that all medical officers so held by the United States shall be immediately and unconditionally discharged.” On 26 June, the Confederate States of America did the same with its General Order No. 45.

On 26 November 1862, Hayward forwarded his parole to the assistant adjutant general in Washington, enclosed in a letter describing the circumstances of his capture. He explained that he had been ill for some time. When the 12th Regiment had decamped from Warrenton, he stayed behind to recuperate and was captured when Confederate troops marched into town. He wrote, “On the 19th Gen. Steward [Jeb Stuart] arrived and demanded my parole. I at first refused to give it on the ground that I was a surgeon and could not be paroled, but Steward took the ground that as I was not in charge of any sick at Warrenton I should be treated like any other officer in the same circumstance and if I refused my parole I should go a prisoner to Richmond.”

Annotations on the back of Hayward’s letter show a series of referrals. In just three days, the letter made its way to the Commissary-General of Prisoners Col. William Hoffman, then to Lt. Col. William H. Ludlow at Fort Monroe, Agent for Exchange of Prisoners. In his referral to Ludlow, Hoffman wrote, “This case comes clearly under Order No. 60, June 6th par. 4 – and Dr. Hayward should be released.” Ludlow agreed, writing, “The parole given by Dr. Hayward is null and void.”

Hayward eventually returned to his regiment, but had to resign his commission in April 1863 due to poor health. After serving for a short time as post surgeon at the Long Island conscript camp in Boston Harbor, he opened a private practice in Boston. In an interesting postscript to his Civil War service, documents in the collection indicate that, on 26 March 1864, he exhibited an invention to the Suffolk District Medical Society – a “mule ambulance” of his own design. The society immediately approved his invention for submission to the War Department.

John McLean Hayward was clearly well-respected as a doctor and a military man. His friend Col. James L. Bates, speaking on behalf of the regiment in a letter to the surgeon general, described Hayward as “a gentleman whom we all love and esteem, and in whose skill in surgery and medicine we have an unbounded faith.”

To learn more about the Hayward family, please visit the MHS library.

Who’s Your Favorite Historian?

By Kathleen Barker, Education Department

Although it’s only early November, program planning for the winter and spring of 2013 is well under way here in the Education Department. The MHS will be offering an interesting mix of public programs in the coming months, including concerts, author talks, a walking tour, and even a dramatic reading! Even as we experiment with different program formats, however, we always remember to ask ourselves how we can shine a spotlight on the Society’s unique resources and assets. In addition to our amazing collections, the MHS also employs a phenomenal staff with connections to an engaging array of historians, public figures, artists, and others who make use of history in their work. How can we tap into this deep pool of historical enthusiasm? What is the best way to connect all of these fantastic people with our public program audiences?  We’ve come up with a few ideas, but we’d love to hear what YOU think.

One program we will pilot in 2013 is modeled after something we’ve tried at our annual fundraiser, “Cocktails with Clio.” At each of the past two events, the Society’s President has interviewed a prominent historian as part of the evening’s entertainment. We’d like to build on this format and develop an entire series of discussion-based programs that feature historians working on intriguing projects.

So … who is your favorite historian? Who would you like to converse with at the MHS? Along the same lines, we’re also on the lookout for non-historians who could comment on how history affects their work. Jurists, for example, could discuss how they use history to frame their responses to current court cases, while city planners could explain how they engage with the past while planning for the future. Are there other “opinion makers” you’d like to see at the MHS? Use the comment form below to let us know!

Of course, writers and artists use history in their work all the time, and we’re excited to offer several prominent examples of historically minded creations this spring. In February, for example, we will host author William Martin, who will share the experience of writing his latest book, The Lincoln Letter, a work of historical fiction that takes readers on a an adventure through Civil War Washington. In May, we will bring our collections to life in song and theater. Local playwright Rob Velella will join us for a dramatic reading that explores the friendship between Charles Sumner and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His performance is based on the letters, journals, and other documents created by both men. Later in the month, Berklee Professor of Music Education Peter Cokkinias brings his Boston Saxophone Quartet to MHS. The group will perform music from the era of the American Civil war and provide historical commentary on songs that our audience will be sure to recognize. Are you ready to sing along?

Now that you’re all excited about 2013, don’t forget that we have some nifty programs coming up in November and December. Be sure to visit our web calendar often for more information about programs on the horizon.

Terrorism No New Topic to Presidential Elections

By Emilie Haertsch, Publications

It’s Election Day, and there has been a lot of talk in the news lately about terrorism influencing the current and last two presidential elections. But although sometimes it feels like it’s a relatively new political issue, the fear of terrorism has been part of the American political discussion since our nation’s founding. During the presidential election of 1800, terrorism and its prevention were hot topics, and part of what cost Pres. John Adams his reelection.

During Adams’s presidency, America was involved in the Quasi-War with France from 1798 through 1800. France was a great ally to the United States during the American Revolution, but much changed in the intervening years. The United States made peace with Great Britain in 1783, and several years later the French monarchy collapsed. Revolutionary France declared war on Great Britain, and Great Britain joined a coalition of European monarchies that aimed at containing the French Revolution. The United States remained neutral in the conflict. In addition, the U.S. government refused to repay debts owed to France from the American Revolution, claiming that they were owed to the French monarchy, which no longer existed. Ignoring American neutrality, French privateers began seizing American merchant ships in the West Indies. This led to an undeclared war between the United States and France—the Quasi-War.

Pres. Adams and the Federalist Party supporters aligned with Great Britain. They viewed the French Revolution as mob rule and resented what they saw as foreign intervention in American domestic politics. They also feared the threat of possible invasion. Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law in 1798. The four laws targeted French immigrants and sympathizers to the French cause, but also foreigners in general and anyone who criticized the government. The Alien and Sedition Acts increased the residency requirement for citizenship from five to fourteen years and empowered the president to deport aliens “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States” at will. No one ever was prosecuted or deported as a “dangerous” alien and the law expired in 1800, but it had a chilling effect on resident aliens. A separate law that allowed the president to restrain or remove enemy aliens in wartime was the only act that had wide support in congress (and still is in effect today), but was not used by Adams because the U.S. never formally declared war on France. The laws also limited the freedom of the press, a sentiment that Adams had strongly supported as author of the Massachusetts Constitution. The Sedition Act gave the government broad power to suppress public attacks on the government and its officials, and, as a practical matter, allowed the Federalists to prosecute their political opponents. The Sedition Act also had a fixed term and ended on the last day of Adams’s presidential term in March 1801.

When the Federalists attempted to use the Alien and Sedition Acts to silence their opposition, they met strong opposition from the Democratic-Republican Party, a party more closely aligned with the ideals of the French Revolution and under the leadership of Vice President Thomas Jefferson. Most newspapers of the day were partisan, and when Republican newspapers harshly criticized the Adams administration for its handling of French relations, fourteen authors and editors were tried under the new Sedition Act. Playwright and newspaperman James Burke, Vermont congressman Matthew Lyon, and newspapermen Thomas and Abijah Adams were among those indicted for seditious libel.

The 1800 presidential election was a bitter continuation of the previous presidential election. One of the Democratic Republicans’ chief criticisms of the Federalist Party was of its efforts to centralize and increase governmental power, illustrated by the passage of the Alien and Section Acts and the resulting infringement on individual rights. Republicans were not necessarily against prosecutions for seditious libel, but believed they should take place in state rather than federal courts.

The Republicans won the election of 1800 and, at least in part because of the unpopular acts, Adams became a one-term president. He was succeeded by Jefferson who, in his conciliatory first inaugural speech, said that “…every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names, brethren of the same principle. WE ARE ALL REPUBLICANS; WE ARE ALL FEDERALISTS.” His administration too soon would be at war with foreign “terrorists,” in this case the Barbary pirates, who attacked and kidnapped American sailors in the Mediterranean.

During the recent presidential debates, Pres. Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney addressed their own positions on terrorism and homeland security. Although the threat may look slightly different now, with a greater focus on foreign terrorists rather than internal subversion, it’s nothing new to American politics. Just ask John Adams—and Thomas Jefferson. And don’t forget to vote!

The Past in the Present: Election Day

By Elaine Grublin

As evidenced in this 1798 cartoon, politcs in America have always been contentious. To mark Election Day the MHS offers a retrospective of items from our blog and across our website related to American electoral history. 

From the Beehive:

Terrorism No New Topic to Presidential Elections (6 November 2012)

“The Inveteracy of Party Spirit is however indeed allarming at present.”: Press and Partisanship in the Election of 1796 (31 October 2012)

Historian Ray Raphael on that Flummoxing Electoral College (28 September 2012)

Election Days Past (2 Nov 2010)

Our Newest Arrival: Abigail Adams on Election of 1800 (27 May 2010)


From Collections Online:

Leverett Saltonstall and the Election of 1876

The American Party (the Know-Nothing Party) comes to power in Massachusetts in 1855

The Gerry-Mander. A new species of Monster which appeared in Essex South District in Jan. 1812

GOP campaign mugs of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (Just for fun.)


And with all the attention political ads have given to female voters in this year, it seemed appropriate to point back to Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Victory Parade : Instructions for Marchers


The image above is “Congressional Pugilists”, a political cartoon depicting Matthew Lyon fighting with a federalist opponent on the floor of Congress early in 1798.


This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

It is a relatively quiet week at the MHS, with only one public program being offered.  But it promises to be a great one.

If you are looking for something to do on your lunch hour on Wednesday, 7 November, come to 1154 Boylston Street at 12:00 PM for a brown-bag lunch presentation by MHS-NEH long-term fellow Matthew Dennis, University of Oregon. Dennis will present “American Relics and the Material Politics of Public Memory,” a project that assesses American relics that have emerged and persisted since the colonial period, placing them in a broader context, using their histories to analyze the means through which Americans have used them to express and authorize their public words by making those words (literally) concrete.

Please note that their is no building tour on Saturday as the MHS will be closed Saturday, 10 November and Monday, 12 November in observance of Veterans Day.